the ponderings of a mother

These are the ponderings of a mother in love with her children, both in my arms and in the grave. Some of these ponderings are quite emotional, some are funny, others contemplative and spiritual. All are sincere. May these writings bless you in many ways and bring you closer to the one, true God and Redeemer of all things.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Silence & Acceptance

I feel indebted to God for the way He is forming in me a love of silence. But it has not always been this way. As long as I can remember I have been energetic, loving progress, efficiency, and productivity.  When things did not go as planned I jumped right up and figured out another way to make it happen. Hearing that something could not work out only energized me; rarely discouraged me. This was very helpful when serving as student council president, getting promoted in corporate America, anytime my car broke down, etc. etc. I can be quite resourceful.
As much as this can be a virtuous characteristic, and certainly offer hope and energy in challenging moments, this virtue can harbors an ugly shadow. Lurking in this shadow I see busyness, anxiety, a “weight of the world” feeling, sometimes emptiness and even anger. I suspect these arise out of a sense of needing to control, or at least not need to rely on another.
See, somewhere along the way I caught the idea that acceptance of any circumstance was synonymous with giving up and weakness. Maybe this explains why I have struggled throughout my life with the “weaker” of society. Those that don’t cut it in our culture because of money, physicality, education, nationality, family, laziness. Certainly you can do something about your circumstances? Get up, move on, enough with the handouts. This can really annoy me. I have so often not known how to relate to someone who appeared to be so different from me. And truth be told there are likely many who could “do more”; but rest assured none of us are outside the realm of ruin in some area of our lives without God and supportive community.
Without embracing the weak parts of myself, I have never been able to embrace the weakness, or sometimes just plain need, of another.  We are not meant to be entirely self-sufficient. If capable, emotionally mature is appreciated, taking responsibility for our actions is right, working for our livelihood is good and noble. But even as a highly functioning person of society I will never possess all aspects of the diversity of personality; I will never be brilliant in all disciplines; I will never have perfect faith, intuition, or wisdom.  I will grow toward maturity in many ways, but I will never be entirely self-sufficient.  Thank God.
Somewhere in this pondering is why I am thankful to God for growing in me a love for silence and acceptance. I cannot attain the latter without the former. There cannot be acceptance in my soul without first silence in my soul, for one begets the other.
 Around my mid-twenties I began to take solitude retreats. I needed to be quiet. I felt a keen emptiness that needed filling. I wanted God in a way I couldn’t explain. So in the spirit of Henri Nouwen and others I often read, I began retreating annually.
The first one I went on I brought 9 books.  Yes, 9 books for a retreat that would last less than 48 hours. Including a Bible dictionary and commentary for all the in-depth study I would do on my breaks from reading the other 7 books. The first night a sister at the retreat center where I was staying came to my room for my first ever experience of spiritual direction. With wisdom and gentleness she listened to me and gave me one thing to do. Put away all my books for the entire weekend and focus on one Psalm (I guess that’s 2 things). I think I broke out in cold sweats right there. I am serious. I was so scared of what I would do with my mind and body with almost 48 hours of only one Psalm. But I chose to submit to her direction and packed up my books and slid them out of sight. She left my room after a short prayer, I read the Psalm one time, and slept like I had not slept in, potentially, my entire life. Peace.
The remainder of the weekend was filled with some anxiety, but my walks throughout their beautiful grounds, my silent prayers, my crying out to God, and pouring over just one Psalm produced something I had yet to experience in my entire life. Silence. It was something in me now. I remember not wanting to drive off of the grounds of the retreat center because my being felt so filled up. As anxious as I had been to enter silence, I am found it was actually silence which was entering me.  And slowly this new, strange fruit of acceptance began to grow.  
Throughout the years of extended retreats and sometimes just minutes a day in these unhurried silences, theses aforementioned shadows are coming into the light (marriage also sped up that process, but that’s a different blog post). I am always in fear when I first meet a shadow, but then I get to know it individually. I learn of its origins and often times why it chose to camp out with me.  Sometimes I grieve for those reasons.  I let it know that I understand, but that I still don’t really like it hanging around. And in this interchange something happens in me, something I would call acceptance. The shadow doesn’t always go running for the hills, but acceptance does appear to aggravate it. Shadows don’t have the same scary power when they are known and light can be cast on them at any moment.
God grant me the serenity 
to accept the things I cannot change; 
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
There is more to this beautiful prayer. But I have found for me to grow in maturity that I need to “accept the things I cannot change”. It is different for each person, and probably in different seasons. My husband and I feel this is split up for the 2 of us perfectly, I need more of the first part, and he needs more of the second part “the courage to change the things I can”.  And both of us need the wisdom to know the difference.
So I accept these weak parts of me; the shadows that can lurk around me:
·        I can use busyness as a means of escaping pain
·        I can think my ideas or ways are the only hope of a situation working out in the “right” way
·        I can feel the weight of my decisions will affect much more than they actually will (as if God’s plan can completely foil if I am not perfect)
·        Emptiness can drive me to fill my time in odd ways
·        I can use anger as a way to cover deep hurts
These weakest parts in me become places where I find God in a special way. Where I am reminded of my need for him. Where His power is made perfect.
As I accept my own weakness, others’ weaknesses do not scare me as they once did. God is put in His rightful place in my heart, and I see how His grace covers and works within and around the many shadows we cast on one another. Even weaknesses which are not shadows, but are weaknesses of physicality or mind become something I can embrace rather than turn away from in my fear. A new commonality is being born between me and others. Between me and Jonan Eilam. His seeming weakness is a precious place of new life for me and others. God, like He promised, is using weak things of the world to shame the strong (1 Cor. 1:27) and show us more of Himself. 


  1. Amen and amen. I so appreciate this post. Your words and thoughts are beautifully scripted and they resound like a bell of truth in my soul.

    I especially appreciated this:
    "Somewhere in this pondering is why I am thankful to God for growing in me a love for silence and acceptance. I cannot attain the latter without the former. There cannot be acceptance in my soul without first silence in my soul, for one begets the other."

    and this:

    "...Between me and Jonan Eilam. His seeming weakness is a precious place of new life for me and others. God, like He promised, is using weak things of the world to shame the strong (1 Cor. 1:27) and show us more of Himself."

    Thank you for sharing.
    I love you,

  2. Kimberly and Jeff, I read your very hard news in the prayerchain email from Trevor this morning. (We have not met, but we got to Rez.)

    I am so deeply, deeply sorry for your loss. I read your whole blog today and admire your forthrightness and desire to live in this experience, and this pain, fully.

    I had a very hard time becoming a mother, and when I was pregnant with my twins I almost lost them and was in the hospital very frequently. It was terrifying at times. The Lord gave us this verse, which fed the secret parts of my soul in unspeakable ways. I spent hours mulling this over, praying in my hospital bed.

    Ecclesiastes 11:5 (The Message)
    Just as you'll never understand
    the mystery of life forming in a pregnant woman,
    So you'll never understand
    the mystery at work in all that God does.

    Ecclesiastes 11:5 (New International Version, ©2010)
    As you do not know the path of the wind,
    or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb,
    so you cannot understand the work of God,
    the Maker of all things.

    Ecclesiastes 11:5 (Amplified Bible)
    As you know not what is the way of the wind, or how the spirit comes to the bones in the womb of a pregnant woman, even so you know not the work of God, Who does all.

    I will be praying for you. I will be honored to meet you someday at church.

    The Lord is near.
    peace be with you,
    Aimee Fritz

  3. Thank you for the reminders of just how faithful God is, Kimberly. The grace and faith you exhibit are just two of the reasons why I am so glad that we know each other. With love, Charissa